New Government guidance means hospital patients are now allowed visitors.

It has not been possible to visit sick friends and relatives in hospital while the country has been in lockdown, but, as this has eased, wards are allowing visitors again.

At Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, visiting will be managed in a controlled way to protect visitors, patients and staff by minimising the risk of the spread of coronavirus and other infections.

It will be limited to one visitor for a maximum of one hour per day for each patient and visitors will have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Those wishing to visit the hospital must arrange a time with the ward in advance.

All visitors to wards have to wear a surgical mask, apron and gloves, and must arrive at the hospital site wearing a face covering. Surgical masks will be available to put on at main entrances and visitors must wash hands or use hand gel at the main entrances on entering the hospital.

On arriving at the ward, visitors must put on the provided apron and gloves at the ward entrance before entering.

When leaving, aprons and gloves must be disposed of in the bin provided. Surgical masks must be left on until visitors leave the hospital building, when they can then be disposed of in the bins at main entrances.

Visitors can then use their own face covering again or wear the surgical mask home.

Anyone suffering from any of the following symptoms: high temperature, a new continuous cough, a loss or change to sense of smell or taste, migraine, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhoea, must not visit DCH.

Birthing partners can still accompany a woman in labour and visiting is still limited at DCH's intensive care unit and Prince of Wales Ward. Those who want to visit need to liaise with the unit before visiting patients.

There are also special arrangements for visiting patients receiving end-of-life care.

Patients attending the emergency department should be accompanied by only one relative or friend.

DCH has come up with ways to keep patients in touch with their loved ones virtually throughout the pandemic and these options are still available.

They include a video link and email service.

Families can still send messages to and are asked to indicate the ward, initials and date of birth of the person they are contacting in the subject box of the email. Staff at DCH will ensure their messages are delivered. If a patient is unable to read the letter themselves, a member of the ward team will read the message to them.